A man will spend one more month in prison after pleading guilty to stealing three vehicles and setting two alight, mostly in the Kerang area.
Daniel Geoffrey O’Neill pleaded guilty to 10 charges in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, including theft, theft of a motor vehicle, arson, entering a private place without permission, possessing a scheduled weapon and driving while unlicensed.
The police prosecutor told the court that between July 14 and July 26 this year, O’Neill stole a vehicle from his second cousin’s home in Barmah, New South Wales.
On the morning of July 26, he drove the vehicle to Kerang. He then stole another vehicle, which had keys in the ignition, from under a carport.
A few hours later, O’Neill crashed the vehicle at Lake Charm and set it alight.
He was captured by security cameras then stealing a vehicle from a Lake Charm home.
The victim of this theft reported his vehicle stolen after he noticed the fire from earlier stolen vehicle.
Two days later, O’Neill drove this third vehicle to Cemetery Forest near Kerang and set it alight.
The next day, he was discovered hiding in a house in Kerang, and police found a utility knife in his pocket.
In mid-May this year, O’Neill was also caught driving while disqualified, telling the police officer who pulled him over that his licence had been disqualified for three years in NSW about two years earlier.
The court heard O’Neill had an ice addiction and had led a trouble-free life before he turned 30.
Magistrate Patrick Southey sentenced him to a total of three months’ imprisonment, taking into account the 60 days already served.
“It’s one thing to steal people’s valuable cars… But to torch the car, that’s a terrible act,” Mr Southey said.
All licences were cancelled and he was disqualified from driving for four months.
He was also ordered to serve a 12-month community corrections order.
Mr Southey took O’Neill’s guilty plea into account, telling him he would have served six months in prison if not for that.
He also took into account the fact his family was supportive and he knew “what it’s like to be a normal, law-abiding citizen”.
O’Neill is also required to submit a DNA sample to police for future reference.
Mr Southey refused orders that O’Neill pay compensation for the lost vehicles, due to uncertainty around their exact monetary value.